1 July 1916: the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The hot, hellish day in the fields of northern France that has dominated our perception of the First World War for just shy of a century. The shameful waste; the pointlessness of young lives lost for the sake of a few yards; the barbaric attitudes of the British leaders; the horror and ignominy of failure. All have occupied our thoughts for generations. Yet are we right to view the Somme in this way?
Drawing on a vast number of sources such as letters, diaries and numerous archives, Bloody Victory describes in vivid detail the physical conditions, the combat and exceptional bravery against the odds but it also, uniquely, captures how the Somme defined the twentieth century in so many ways. This is an utterly gripping new analysis of one of the most iconic campaigns in history.
Dr William Philpott has lectured in military history in the Department of War Studies, King's College London, since 2001. He is a specialist in the history of the First World War, in particular British strategy and the history of the French army. This is his first book for a general readership.